$6 M Class Action Lawsuit Against Bell Over 911 Fee Begins

by Istvan Fekete on March 7, 2013

After six years of wrangling and delays, a Yellowknife man has finally been able to testify in court in the class action lawsuit against Bell Mobility. James Anderson filed the lawsuit back in 2007, claiming that Bell shouldn’t charge $0.75 per month for a 911 service that doesn’t exist in the three territories except in the Whitehorse area.

As Anderson pointed out, there are about 20,000 people from Nunavut and Yukon included in the lawsuit. Over the next 10 days, a judge will hear the case in Yellowknife.

From Anderson’s perspective, a $0.75 charge for a service that doesn’t exist in the area is malicious and high-handed of Bell. Even if he and his son knew about the fee at the moment of signing the contract with the wireless carrier, this doesn’t make the charge fair, and, more importantly, he couldn’t modify the contract, even though he was aware of this.

Bell’s position is pretty interesting: Besides pointing to Anderson and his son, claiming they travel outside the territory with their Bell mobile phones where the 911 service is available, their internal emails reveal there was an internal dispute years ago about the 911 service fee.

As the CBC article highlights, Bell employees suggested scrapping 911 fees in the North six years ago. The email exchange between customer service reps and management took place before Anderson filed his lawsuit against the company.

Instead, it shows that Anderson’s 911 complaint isn’t an isolated case, as customer representatives were asking for guidance on how to handle these complaints. And at one point, a Bell director suggested that the 911 fees needed to be removed.

However, during the cross-examination former Bell vice-president Mike Martins said the director had no authority to make that decision, and it was only an opinion anyway. In another email, a Bell employee highlighted that in the case of a class-action lawsuit, the company would have no defense.

Iain Grant, who has researched 911 services in Canada, made a couple of key points during his testimony, shedding light on Bell’s improper practices. He said other carriers don’t charge for a 911 service that doesn’t exist, except in the three territories and in Fort Nelson. Also, Northwestel didn’t charge for 911 until it was acquired by Bell back in 2003.

Written by: Istvan Fekete. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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Bell Found Liable for Charging 911 Fees for Non-Existent Service in Northwest Territories — TheTelecomBlog.com
May 20, 2013 at 5:55 am

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